GENERALLY APPLICABLE ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE INDICATORS
Energy consumption is a global issue and relevant to all businesses across sectors. The total energy consumed equals energy purchased or obtained (e.g. coal, natural gas) minus ener gy
sold to others for their use (e.g. electricity, steam). The definition agreed
for general applicability relates solely to energy consumed and transformed on site, which means that electricity companies would report the purchased energy amount and subtract energy sold, keeping generation and transfer losses as part of their consumption. Companies could further elaborate on energy use by identifying separately the renewable energy consumption and a breakdown into different types of energy sources such as natural gas, oil
Water consumption is the sum of all fresh water purchased from a water supplier or obtained from surface or ground water sources. Availability of fresh water is a global issue. Even though for many areas there may be no local concern about availability, it is increasingly costly to generate clean water. “Fresh water” includes water used for cooling purposes even if ther e is no physical contact to pr ocess materials, and excludes sea water.
Material consumption is the sum of weight of all materials purchased or obtained from other sources such as extraction, including raw materials for conversion, other process materials (such as catalysts, solvents), and pr e- or
semi-manufactured goods, parts and modules (such as automobile parts, computer parts). Dematerialization is a global requirement for sustainability,
which makes materials use an issue of global concern and relevance to virtually
all businesses. Material included in this indicator excludes water and fuels, which are identified as separate generally applicable indicators. Packaging materials are also excluded from this item. Packaging is clearly important, especially in consumer industries. But packaging fails the generally applicable criteria of being meaningful to virtually all businesses and there is no agreement on measurement methodology. This issue should be dealt with as a business specific indicator for product use.
This item, representing the weight of
all materials used, provides a useful denominator for material efficiency ratios. Companies might also expand measurement to identify specific material categories such as replaceable (e.g. natural crops, wood from managed
forests), non-renewable, hazardous, non-hazardous materials categories.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N20), hydro- and perfluorocarbons (HFCs, PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions from fuel combustion, process reactions and treatment processes. The climate change issue related to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases is a global concern and – because it is closely linked to emissions from energy sources – is relevant across businesses. The definition of the GHG emissions covers the gases detailed in annex A of the Kyoto Protocol and their relative contributions are commonly accepted as detailed in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The concept of the “boundary fence” is very important for this indicator. This generally applicable indicator covers only emissions from direct corporate activities, although companies may
choose to track significant GHG emissions from suppliers such as electricity providers and also from product use where they feel they are relevant. WBCSD participates in a joint effort together with World Resources Institute (WRI) and other organizations to develop a broadly accepted protocol to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions (www.ghgprotocol.org). This protocol will provide further detail on comprehensive GHG reporting.
Ozone depleting substance (ODS) emissions are a global concern, defined in the Montreal Protocol which lists the groups of gases that are contributing to the effect and describes their impact potential. This issue has relevance across business, even though the markets of the most danger ous gases have been strongly reduced and less harmful alternatives introduced. Even though the effect will be visible in the stratospheric ozone layer over many decades or even centuries, the indicator might lose its relevance in the near future, when policies to eliminate ODS from applications continue to be implemented successfully on a global scale.